I have an NRG team event coming up this weekend in Newark. I’ll be playing Rakdos in Pioneer. Today I’m going to share my updated list for the expected metagame.
I arrived at this list by watching MisplacedGinger’s stream and seeing where the flex slots weren’t always pulling their weight. Derek likely plays more with Rakdos Midrange than anyone else on the planet so I wouldn’t advise changing too much of his list, but the deck does constantly evolve.
Pioneer has been moving quickly. It can be difficult to follow the newest decks as they seem to come out every week. I’m sticking with Rakdos Midrange rather than trying every new strategy with hopes to break the format. Rakdos is a tried and true strategy and we have all been victim to playing a lot of Magic and settling on a deck that winds up being too cute.
Over the last month there have been some key evolutions in the metagame that affect my card choices. Creature decks take many forms, but all have one thing in common: swarm the battlefield to play around Liliana of the Veil. For this reason I agree with Ginger that you don’t want to go overboard and play too many copies.
Sheoldred has impressed and is now the default four-drop over Kalitas. As Rakdos Midrange picks up more generically powerful tools I can devote my sideboard to more trump cards since I don’t need to bring out a large number of cards in any matchup. Izzet Phoenix, Azorius Control, and Lotus Field matchups improve as this powerful ⅘ can close the game quickly.
Tenacious Underdog once again underperformed for me so I swapped it with a maindeck Kalitas to free up valuable sideboard space. The theory behind Underdog being good again was that Liliana created low resource games where the Blitz would shine. In practice, two Lilianas aren’t enough to create this scenario often enough.
Castle Locthwain’s stock has increased as a smoother way to take advantage of low resource games created by Liliana. A card advantage engine that can be swapped with Takenuma, Abandoned Mire has a lower opportunity cost. Sheoldred combos well with Locthwain as you gain two life to offset.
Swamps become more important to ensure Locthwain enters the battlefield untapped. This is subtly pushing the deck in the direction of playing more black spells. I choose snow-covered lands because they are essentially free and can confuse the opponent in the early turns.
Ginger has played up to four copies of Dreadbore, but I’m still happy with three. It’s slightly more difficult to double-spell with red mana and Eliminate’s instant speed attribute is very helpful against Greasefang. I could maindeck Abrade in this slot, but there aren’t enough artifacts in the format to justify; Liliana and Kiora are more important to kill.
Ginger and others have played three Extinction Events, but I’ve found many creature matchups demand two. Extra four drops aren’t as useful because Kalitas and Sheoldred are good against creatures. The third Extinction Event shines primarily against Mono Green so I instead play Epic Downfall for curve considerations. Downfall is also passable against Mono White Humans.
Hidetsugu Consumes All is a powerful sweeper, but Mono White Humans is the most popular creature deck. For this reason Witch’s Vengeance is here to kill more expensive humans, elves, and spirits. Remember Graveyard Trespasser’s front half is a human.
Rending Volley is a popular sideboard card, but there are many creature decks it misses. I’ve encountered Elves, Atarka Red, and Gruul Company recently.
When constructing a Rakdos Midrange sideboard I reserve four cards for the mirror to swap for Thoughtseize: Abrade, Kalitas, Reckoner Bankbuster, and Kolaghan’s Command. Bankbuster doesn’t shine in every type of game in the mirror so I prefer a Command over the second copy. The next card to cut in the mirror after the four Thoughtseize are all strong so I don’t want five cards for the mirror.
I need to respect artifacts due to Mono Green playing multiple copies of Skysovereign. Abrade isn’t always good against Mono Green so pay attention to their flex slots: Skysovereign, Teferi, and Nicol Bolas.
Azorius Control, Indomitable Creativity, and Enigmatic Incarnation can be challenging matchups as their power resides in hand. Duress has picked up stock as additional ways to disrupt powerful cards ahead of them being cast. Remember you don’t need to cast disruption spells on the first turn as Creativity and Incarnation are four-drops that can be drawn in the mid game.
Team tournaments have more consolidated metagames. I expect to face Mono Green Devotion, Mono White Humans, and Rakdos mirrors most of the rounds. Pioneer is an open format, but teams settle on top decks more often.
Here’s how I plan to sideboard against the big three decks:
Vs. Mono Green
(If you see multiple Skysovereign)
(If you see multiple Skysovereign)
Mono White Humans:
Rakdos is one of the top two best decks and each game is close. I feel good about my chances as it does reward deck familiarity.